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The next step: Local Search Engine Marketing (Local SEM)

Local search engine marketing for tourism, when applied strategically, done properly and regularly, can be another effective way for local businesses targeting tourists and travelers to grow visits by attracting traffic towards your (mobile) website. By making your search engine marketing location-based (‘Local Search Engine Marketing or Local SEM’) you can further boost visits and revenues.

It used to be only the big travel and hospitality businesses who had the money for large scale marketing. Smaller tourist businesses and travel operators depended very much on local tourist boards and destination marketing organizations doing their promotion. In brochures, guides and the destination website.

Today, any business can use one of the many digital channels to outpace the competition. Having your own optimized website and Local SEO are the basic foundations to build any online marketing strategy. Local search engine marketing (or ‘Local SEM’) is the next step and is becoming a crucial part of a successful local tourism and travel business online marketing strategy.

Many small local tourism businesses and travel operators are taking advantage of the Internet to directly promote their offerings, products and services in the best possible way to their potential visitors. And they are successful in doing that.

Google and other major search engines are helping you

Parties like Google and other major search engines and social media companies are giving tourism and travel businesses of all sizes the opportunity to tap into the power of the technology and grow their visits and revenues.

If you are a small business that wants to tap into the huge opportunity of connecting with local searchers, then optimizing your local search listing is the way to go. Because these listings help you stand out from the rest in the local result pages of Google, Bing and other search engines.

Understand that local search engine marketing is an apt way to not only attract prospects for your business, but also improve your brand’s presence in your state, city or country.

It is the next step after getting your offering, your website and local SEO fully optimized. And you should only consider this when you see opportunities to increase visits by using paid advertising. Search engine marketing is one of the best tools available in paid advertising. Especially if you also ‘localize’ your SEM (‘Local SEM’)

As part of your online marketing planning, you need to understand the principles of Local SEM and the different ways of how you can use it.

What is Local Search Engine Marketing (Local SEM)?

We first start with the definition for Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of promoting your website, business or any content by using either paid methods, free methods or a combination of joining both the methods of the search engine optimization (SEO). This results in the increase of your content’s ranking (showing up on top) in the  search engine result pages (SERPs). And for tourism and travel businesses should lead to increased visits to your business and therefor higher revenues.

Local Search Engine Marketing (Local SEM) is then applying SEM to promote your website, business etc. but now adding location to the equation.

Also, Local Search Engine Marketing (Local SEM) consists of two main components:

  • Local Search Engine Optimization (Local SEO).
  • Paid advertising: Local SEM uses ‘paid reach’ to attract the visitors.

Local SEO uses so-called ‘organic’ reach. The idea is that you optimize your website and rewrite the content in such a way that the visibility of that content increases in the search engine search results (‘organic search results’). Read more about Local SEO in this post.

By using paid advertising, using advertising programs, such as Google Ads and Bing Ads, you increase the chance that results are displayed higher in the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). Above the organic search results. Paid results can also be displayed on the side, and in the bottom of SERPs.

Making Sure Local Searchers Find You

Local search engine marketing is the practice of optimizing your business site so that local search users can find you. Google processes billions of search queries per day, out of which a large percentage of them are location-based.

For example, someone logs on to Google from Aix-en-Provence, France and does a search for the following query: ‘michelin restaurants near me’. Upon doing so, the search engine giant instantly displays Michelin restaurants located in and around Aix-en-Provence nearest to him.

local business search

Why use Local SEM?

Paid reach is a frequently used method in the marketing strategy by a lot of companies nowadays. Search engine advertising programs are available to anyone, and they have become an important tool in developing and growing small tourism and travel businesses as well.

In today’s digital world being positioned at the top of the result pages is a signal of success. You need to do your best to increase the visibility of your website in relation to the keywords your visitors use and that are associated with your business.

Since using organic reach, i.e. SEO, to attract visitors from outside your location can be a long-term effort with lots of obstacles on the way. Paid reach has become a simple alternative, an easy solution to get at the top quickly. But it can only work if you have the basis right: as excellent offering (receiving 4 to 5 our of 5 starts in online reviews), a fully optimized website and Local SEO.

Nearly all (100%) people using online search actually do that to look for local businesses. Nearly 90% of Internet users go to Google Maps when looking up the location of a local business. Half (50% of all Google searches include a query looking for local information. Nearly 90% consumers who search for a local business on their mobile device call or visit its physical location on the same day. Nearly three-quarters (75%) of consumers who use online search to look for local businesses visit stores within an eight km or five mile radius.

Therefore, since local tourism and travel businesses depend on selling products and services that are suited to their geographical location, it is important to get easily found by their target audience by making sure their Local SEO and Local SEM are in order.

local search engine marketing

Benefits of Local SEM

Cost effectiveness through Local SEM

Although it costs money, one of the many benefits that SEM in general can provide is cost effectiveness.

The most well-known SEM method used is ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC). This method only charges you if a user clicks on your online advertisement. Not only does this method let you appear the ads in the search engine result pages, where people can read the ad, but you only have to pay when the user clicks the ad. By properly using Local SEM in combination with Local SEO and other methods, you can increase the number of visits to your website and booking tools. And thus increase visits and revenues.

One of the biggest advantages SEM offers is that the costs and expenses applied through the marketing are comparatively less than other – more traditional – means and methods of paid marketing used in tourism and local business. Like the brochure or other print, tourism board membership, radio spot, tv add.

Local SEM gives Faster Results

Paid marketing methods (such as the pay-per-click method described above) provide fast results.

Local SEM runs 4/7

Another big advantage of Local SEM is that your online advertisement runs twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. All you have to do is choose the websites or advertising platforms (like Google) on the internet that you want to have your advertisement. If you wish to have the same days and hourly exposure through the other ways of paid marketing, you would need a much higher budget.

Local SEM gives you Control

Local SEM also allows a complete control over your campaign, your audience, and the campaign costs.

Using paid advertising program allows you to be in charge of your campaign, by setting up the
budget and the time period that budget is to be spent. This way, you will only spend the budget
you have planned to assign to this type of campaign. As the campaign runs, you will be able to
analyze the budget spending, and to adjust it accordingly.

Local SEM attracts more visitors

Increased traffic means increased promotions, which further means a higher chance for increased bookings and visits. When an increased number of people start getting to know about your company or any content on the website, many of these people will start converting into customers and clients.

The main benefit of search engine advertising is the possibility to reach more clients, which are the users you would not be able to attract using organic reach only. This helps you expand your market as your business becomes visible to the new customers.

Local SEM allows you to target the ads

The possibility of targeting the users is a huge benefit of advertising program, as you will be able to completely set the criteria according to which the ads will be displayed in the search engines.

Google Ads allows the following targeting options:

  • Keyword targeting
  • Location and language targeting
  • Device targeting.

Local SEM is highly targeted. Since your potential visitors are hunting for offerings, services and products on their own, they are fully predisposed to consider your marketing ads and messages they see on the Internet.

Currently, no other marketing type can offer a qualified and effective prospect than this.

Local SEM is ‘User-generated’

Search engine marketing is an overall result of actions generated by the users. The visitors
from different directories and search engines voluntarily checked your business. One of the reasons why the internet users landed on your website was primarily because they were searching for the offerings you can provide.

Local SEM is ‘Non-intrusive’

Local SEM is a non-intrusive approach used in marketing. Well, should be. Most of the advertisements, offline and online, interrupt the consumer. The idea is that the only ads they see in the search engines are relevant to the search query. Therefore, instead of being intrusive and presenting an interruption, search engine ads are helpful and provide relevant information.

Local SEM allows you to Track conversions

Each advertising program offers a platform for managing the campaign, which also provides the
features for evaluating the performance of the campaign. Therefore, you can track conversions
and make sure that your campaign is really successful. You can also monitor traffic and analyze
how you can improve the strategy to yield best results.

Paid methods

Search engine companies like Google, Bing, Yahoo charge fees for including the website in their top search results. The offerings that are to be advertised show up at the top of the pages of the search engine results – together with organic search results and in separate ad-bars of the search engine and in websites of third parties.

Each search engine has some sort of advertising program, with Google Ads being the most commonly used, due to the large number of searches conducted through this search engines. Other search engines are Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini. Also Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are advertising networks.

There are different methods and ways to earn high ranks in search engines. Every search engine requires different Local SEM techniques as well. You should follow all their guidelines and recommendations in order to ensure success for your business.

When it comes to paid advertising, search engines offer several types of ads, which often include:

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

This type of advertising is also called ‘cost-per-click’ (CPC) advertising. You pay any time someone clicks on your ad shown in the search engine result pages. This type of advertising is most commonly used by advertisers as it requires payment only after your ad has been able to attract visitors to click on it.

Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM)

This advertising model is focused on the number of ‘impressions’, i.e. the number of times that your ad has been shown. Using this type of advertising you pay for each set of one thousand impressions.

Formats of ads

While the text ads appearing in the search engines result pages are most common type of search engine advertising, there are other ad formats available, which might help you with different types of campaign goals.

These include:

  • Text ads
  • Ad extensions
  • Images
  • Mobile text or image ads
  • App promotion ads
  • Videos
  • Product listing ads.

Local SEM versus Local SEO

Local SEO and Local SEM are not the same. You could say that Local SEM is a real extension of Local SEO. Because it gives your business much more visibility and adds more depth to local search results. It makes finding local businesses much more feasible.

Both Local SEO and Local SEM are about:

  • Publishing localized content of high quality on your website
  • Creating or claiming Google My Business listing
  • Optimizing your Bing Places or GMB listing
  • Creating online citations on business directories
  • Attracting and building positive online reviews.

Local SEM adds the paid advertising element to this.

With Local SEO and Local SEM local tourism and travel businesses can take control over their marketing back.

People are continuously looking for local places around them. Places that offer the services they need: attractions, shopping, eating, things to do, transport. Many things have moved to mobile, digital, and ecommerce, but the need for local businesses is not gone. Especially not in tourism. The need to find them is definitely not gone. Gone are the days local tourism and travel businesses needed the tourist board or local destination marketing organization to do their marketing. They can take back control over their marketing. Using Local SEO, Local SEM and as I will write in a next post: using social media.

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